By Tom Harrison Music Critic (August 1984).
Red Rider – band building on it’s hard-won reputation as a live act.
This was supposed to Red Rider’s year.
After the Neruda album established Tom Cochrane as a thoughtful, ambitious songwriter and Red Rider, at last, as a smart, cohesive unit, Cochrane, manager Bruce Allen and EMI Records put aside any notions of Orwellian paranoia and pegged 1984 as the year in which Red Rider broke throughh in the United States.
As of mid-August, Breaking Curfew continues the band’s respectable sales in Canada but has stiffed in America. Manager Bruce Allen describes Cochrane’s stale of mind as “bitter, angry, disappointed, confused.”
Red Rider appears al Club Soda from August 29 to September l, still building on their hard won reputation as a live act – an act whose highlights during l 983’s concert dates were songs from the topical, thematic Neruda.
Breaking Curfew is a tough, aggressive LP, with a harder rhythm and blues bottom and more stylized, contemporary production than anything the band previously has recorded. During an interview in June, Cochrane thought he’d spiked this record right to !he pulse of American music.
“It’s a relief; I love the aluum from the point of view that it’s an obvious album,” he said. “I got Neruda out of my system and moved on. lt was important for me to write a straight forward rock and roll album.
“You’re right when we said we reconciled elements of the early albums. It’s as though we collected the better things from these and moved ahead”.
At the same time, Cochrane was aware of the challenge that faced Breaking Curfew if It were to break , in the U.S.
“Neruda was a frustrating record from the point of view that a lot of writers said, it’s great. but it won’t sell. In the back of my mind I thought it would sell, otherrwise the whole effort would have been a waste of time, a waste of type.
“As It was it sold 300,000 in the U.S. but In this day and age you can’t sell 300,000 records intl1e U.S. and tour.”
Still, the accumulated airplay from three previous records, particularly the single Lunatic Fringe, tile time logged as a touring act, and the initial response to brreaking Curfew gave Red Rider confidence as the band’s American dates approached.
And then EMI America underwent an executive upheaval and the many factors which influence U.S. radio rapidly went through a series of changes. FM ,radio and video were split on “new music” and hard rock; AM embraced a frotily, upbeat pop sound, went heavy
on the emphatically dance-oriented black music, and eroded FM’s domination of the airwaves.
Breaking Curlew simply fell into the huge gulf between poles, and when Eastern U.S. showcases turned into disasters an already tense Tom Cochrane flipped out.
Calmed down and reassured by the Canadian response to the Red Rider tour dates, Cochrane is resolved to riding Breaking Curfew into 1985.
Under an agreement with EMI, If Breaking Curfew fails to go gold (sell 500,000 LPs), Red Rider will get a release from the label.
“It’s a shame,” Bruce Allen declares. “I’m a big believer in the record. Had they (EM!) brought home Neruda, there’s no question they would have made it with this record.”